From chiptune-inspired rock to Mark Kozelek talking for 19.5 minutes, here’s everything I listened to in November (that I haven’t already blogged), in one neat and tidy list for your perusal.
You can scroll through my blog to see what else I’ve been listening to this year, and if you like, you can follow my Spotify playlist, in which you will find an ever-expanding selection of songs that I’ve enjoyed listening to over the course of 2019.
- Albums and EPs
John Vanderslice, ‘The Cedars’ – John Vanderslice said ‘Dagger Beach’ would be his last album and over the years got lost in his depression. With the encouragement of his label and producers we went back into the studio and worked on this album from the ground up, experimenting with noise and electronics to create something more experimental than his previous work. Highlight: ‘I’ll Wait For You’.
Battles, ‘Juice B Crypts’ – The new album feels like the most difficult listen of their discography, but after a few listens, it doesn’t feel all that far away from ‘La Di Da Di’. Highlight: ‘Last Supper On Shasta Pt. 1’.
Various Artists, ‘Let’s Just Do It And Be Legends’ – A strong compliation from Big Scary Monsters of punk, indie, post hardcore, post rock, math rock, and more from some of the label’s best bands on their current roster. Highlight: mewithoutYou – ‘Kirsty w/ the Sparkling Teeth’.
Pile, ‘Green and Gray’ – Pile mix indie rock with post hardcore and post punk, swinging from big ballsy riffs to sweet melodies. This is my first foray into Pile, and this album currently stands at no. 10 on my AOTY list. Highlight: ‘Lord of Calendars’.
Mark Kozelek With Petra Haden, ‘Joey Always Smiled’ – As ever Mark Kozelek isn’t happy with putting out one album in a year, so along with this year’s Sun Kil Moon effort which you can find in June’s blog post, this record expands on his ever-more-talky output with some really beautiful songs. Highlight: ‘1983 Era MTV Music is the Soundtrack to Outcasts Being Bullied By Jocks’ and I’ve got to give a nod to this heart-tugging cover of ‘The Power of Love’.
Big Thief, ‘U.F.O.F’ – A stunning album of folk and indie, with some incrediblly intricate yet catchy songs, and a whole host of dreaminess to boot. Highlight: ‘Cattails’.
Pixies, ‘Beneath the Eyrie’ – Having listened to the last two albums in April, and having enjoyed ‘Indie Cindy’ but not so much ‘Head Carrier, I was looking forward to checking this new one out to see if the band would redeem themselves. I liked a handful of these songs, but overall it felt like it was lacking some oomph. Highlight: ‘On Graveyard Hill’.
Halls, ‘Infinite Loss’ – Originally put out in instalments, I blogged about the first two parts last month. Now we have the full body of work, in which Halls takes more experimental pop approach to his unique brand of brooding indie on an album which mourns the loss of his dad and losing himself in the process. Highlight: ‘Hallelujah’.
Snooze, ‘Familiaris’ – This album manages to be mental and melodic at the same time. It’s math rock brushed with a pop glaze. Highlight: ‘Dig Doug’.
The Appleseed Cast, ‘Two Conversations’ – With recent repress of this album on vinyl, it brought me back to an Appleseed Cast record that I hadn’t listened to in a while and I was instantly reminded of how good it is. Arguably their most accessible album and one that brought them as close to a mainstream audience as they will ever get, it borrows indie rock and pop sensibilities to mix with their unforgettable emo/post-rock sound. Highlight: ‘Hello Dearest Love’.
Anamanaguchi, [USA] – An exciting fusion of chiptune and rock music. This album powerful, energetic, and vibrant. Highlight: ‘On My Own’.
glass beach, ‘the first glass beach album’ – On the basis that I liked the new Anamanaguchi record, it was recommended that I check out glass beach. This is another fun, idiosyncratic, and experimental album that fuses so many genres I struggled to keep count. Highlight: ‘classic j dies and goes to hell part 1’.
Erland Cooper, ‘Sule Skerry’ – A moving album which draws on modern classical and alternative music alike. The second album in a triptych that sets out to capture the spirit and the soul of the Orkney Islands. Highlight: ‘Spoot Ebb’.
Leonard Cohen, ‘Thanks for the Dance’ – Having partly recorded these songs that didn’t make ‘You Want It Darker’ before his passing, he left them to his son to complete with the help of friends. The vocals, which at this point in his life, his Leonard talking rather than singing, are very much the centre-point of each track, and hark back to his poetry-reading days. Highlight: ‘Happens to the Heart’.
Mattiel, ‘Satis Factory’ – For the most part this is a solid album of indie, pop, garage rock, and blues. I did however feel there were a few cliches and over-borrowing of ideas in parts. Highlight: ‘Keep The Change’.
Anna Flyaway, ‘Tomorrow I Will Take a Knife to Your Confidence’ – Before Empire! Empire! I Was A Lonely Estate, Keith Latinen was making music under the name Anna Flyaway, and recently went back to complete and release the album that had been shelved, in which you can hear the groundwork being laid for his musical output to come. Highlight: ‘The Low Light Before Dawn’.
Guided By Voices, ‘Sweating the Plague’ – I had mixed feelings about their other album this year, ‘Warp and Woof’, when I listened to it back in September. Of the two though, that is the one I definitely prefer. There was the odd moment on this new one that I enjoyed, but overall, I found it pretty boring. Highlight: ‘Downer’.
- Individual songs I hadn’t heard before
John Vanderslice, ‘Exodus Damage’ – A catchy, arty, indie song. John Vanderslice always delivers.
Hiss Golden Messenger, ‘Happy Birthday, Baby’ – Indie-folk. A massive earworm burrowing it’s way through this one.
The Walker Brothers, ‘No Regrets’, ‘The Electrician’ – ‘No Regrets’ is a classic pop song from the band that started Scott Walker off. ‘The Electrician’ is brooding and idiosyncratic. Both are great in their own way.
Tindersticks, ‘Pinky in the daylight’ – I’m not sure how, but instead of listening to ‘The Electrician’ by Scott Walker, I ended up listening to this (all the whilst thinking I was listening to ‘The Electrician’). It wasn’t until I went to listen to ‘The Electrician’ again and discovered a song completely different to this one that I realised what I had done, although not before completely tripping out. Both are great songs, so I got two for the price of one I guess.
Haim, ‘Hallelujah’ – The opening part of this song reminded me a lot of Danielle Haim’s songs on the new Vampire Weekend record. I’m quite into this. I picked ‘Hallelujah’ as the highlight on Halls’ new album, and Leonard Cohen is on this list too. I think I have entered the Twilight Zone.
Neil Young with Crazy Horse, ‘Shut It Down’ – This is a solid track, with everything you want from Crazy Horse. I can’t wait to check out the whole album.
The Modern Lovers, ‘Pablo Picasso’ – This song came on Spotify after I was listening to Leonard Cohen’s new album. Sometimes Spotify throws on something completely unexpected and my ears prick up. This was one of those times.